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Panzerkampfwagen Panther II


Pather II (Spielberger Type). Model by David Coyne, Dublin, Ireland


With the publication of Thomas Jentz's Germany's Panther Tank: The Quest for Combat Supremacy, a good deal of controversy was created regarding the technical specifications of the Panther II. Many of the previous specifications were challenged by the Jentz work. Rather than taking one side or another in this debate, Technical Virtue will present both views and let the reader make their own decisions.

All sources agree that development of the Panther II started in early 1943. According to Jentz, the only initial difference between the Panther II and the Panther I was armor thickness (and, of course, the mass increase associated with the thicker armor), and It was not until February that plans for standardization of components between the Panther II and Tiger III (later renamed Tiger II) was planned. Spielberger contends that the commonality was seen as a major driving force behind the creation of the Panther II.

The following table details the two prevailing views regarding the technical specifications of the Panther II:

Panzerkampfwagen Panther II
  Jentz Spielberger
Project Start Date: January 22, 1943 February 1943
Planned Production Date: ~January 1945 Late 1944 / Early 1945
Armor: Hull Front 100mm @ 55o 100mm
  Hull side 60mm @ 0 to 35o 60mm
  Hull rear 40mm @ 40o 60mm
Primary Armament 7.5 cm KwK 42 L/70 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71
Turret Schmale Blendenausfuehrung

(Narrow gun mantelet model turret, see text below)

Schmalturm

(As on Panther Ausf. F, but upgunned, see text below)

The Turret Controversy

Jentz maintains that the schmale Blendenausfuehrung turret to be used on the Panther II was not the Schmalturm of the Panther Ausf. F, much less the upgunned version. This view is based on Drawing No. H-Sk A 88176 from November of 1943 which details the machine gun mount for narrow mantelet turret for the Panther II. It, however, appears that no full drawing of this turret is available at present because the drawings rendered in 1995 for the Jentz book by Hilary Doyle (two of which are shown below) show neither the turret nor the hull top hatches.


Pather II (Jentz Type). Drawing by Hilary Doyle

Pather II (Jentz Type). Drawing by Hilary Doyle


According to Spielberger, the Panther II was to utilize the Schmalturm also found on the Panther F. However, on February 27, 1945, Krupp and Diamler Benz began colaborative work to rearm the Schmalturm with an 8.8cm gun. The technical specifications were as follows:


Pather II (Jentz Type). Composite by Michael McSwiney based on drawings by Hilary Doyle


Above is a conceptual drawing I've compiled and edited indicating what I think the Jentz-type Panther II would have looked like. The hull drawing is the well-known Doyle drawing (about which there is little debate). The turret is a modified version of the Rheinmetall "Schmalturm" from drawing H-SK 88517 (also rendered by Hilary Doyle). This Rheinmetall turret had a stereoscopic range finder, and the turret roof was raised to 960mm at is peak, and the rear sloped off far more than the normal Panther turret. As this drawing dates to March 1, 1944, and the Panther II narrow mantelet turret drawing dates to several months earlier, I deleted the stereoscopic rangefinder and restored the normal turret roof lines of the Panther turret.


Panther II (Speilberger type). Model by Steve Banas


Sources:


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